Rio+20+Trash

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Brazilian-born, New York-based artist Vik Muniz has set up his latest project in Rio de Janeiro, timed with Rio+20, the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development. Appropriately entitled Landscape, Muniz’ new work recreates Rio (the global capital of debate around the environment) entirely out of trash. You probably remember Muniz from the incredible documentary Waste Land.

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Photo via the AP

As one whose day job revolves around international development, I was somewhat relieved not to have to go to Rio this week and participate in the organized chaos of assessing the state of sustainable development around the world. Women’s rights, my area of focus, don’t get much prominence on the agenda and I have many dutiful colleagues who trooped down to Latin America to remind world leaders that, as a Guatemalan colleague put it recently, “we can’t achieve sustainable development if women’s lives are unsustainable.”

Anyway, that is to say I was feeling pretty jaded and exhausted by the mere thought of all the hustle and bustle and tedious bureaucracy orbiting around a meeting of this size and pomp. Until I read about this new Vik Muniz endeavor. Suddenly, I’m jealous of all the activists and diplomats packed into conference rooms and pouring over the past twenty years of progress (or lack thereof) on issues of sustainability.  Those bastards get to slip out and visit amazing trash art projects! I wonder what other creative efforts environmentally-minded artists have cooked up for this occasion.

Are you in Rio? Send updates and photos, please!

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